21.09.2022
England WAGs win battle of the World Cup hotels with Banana Island resort’s £6k-a-night chalets

The England WAGs already seem to have their towels on some of the best sun loungers in Qatar, contributing to the sense that this World Cup would be a particularly bad one to miss.

Partners of English and French players have booked in at Banana Island, a luxury spot 25 minutes by boat from the Doha seafront, according to the place’s sales director. Those with children have their eyes on the biggest chalets which sleep five. Benefits include a helipad, should they prefer that to the motor launch, with white leather seats, complimentary dates and cold flannels.

Those £6,000 a night chalets, built on stilts which sit in the Arabian Sea, won’t offer total escape from hoi polloi.

Anyone can catch the boat and pay £100 to enjoy the resort’s pool and beach. But with a cinema, a surf pool with a wave machine and scuba diving courses, it all rather contributes to the sense that England’s partners are well ahead of the rest when it comes to the accommodation quest for Group B.

Gareth Southgate’s players have bagged arguably the best base of the lot, escaping the traffic and high rises of Doha for the cool class of a hotel converted from former pearl fishermen’s chalets, with thick heat-resistant walls, in the traditional souk district at Al Wakra, upcoast from Doha.

There will be no pictures in the newspapers of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Co on an inflatable unicorn in this place. They’ve never installed a swimming pool there because they want to preserve its status as a ‘heritage property’ — a remnant of the days just 70 years ago, before their lucrative oil and liquefied petroleum gas when Qatar was just a small stretch of sand on the edge of the Arabian Sea.

But the five-star Tivoli hotel, built on the beach, will keep it real for Southgate’s players. They will wake to see the ancient wooden beams of the one-time cottages over their head and watch camels go by if they decide to eat at the array of seafront restaurants which are a few minutes’ walk from their rooms.

The old souk market adjoins the hotel with a fleet of gold buggies on hand to take in the gold and bird markets. Southgate will be pleased to know that hotel staff do the driving.

The hotel will be closed from the end of October to prepare to welcome the team, at which stage there will no longer be a separate dining area for those smoking a shisha pipe. Intricate work to clean the tile mosaic at the communal fountain where the players can lounge was seen by Sportsmail last week. The most expensive rooms here usually cost £250 a night.

This felt a lot less last-minute than the scene around Wales’ newly completed team hotel in the skyrise West Bay, which is not yet open and located in the middle of little less than a building site.

The Delta City Centre hotel has been fully furnished and is a short half-hour drive east from the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium where Wales have the advantage of playing all their group games.

But unless there is a rapid conclusion to building work, the players will be greeted by diggers, dug-up roads and pavements, as they take up residence in the glass skyscraper. Sportsmail last week found a makeshift security hut at the centre of a building site between the hotel and the seafront Corniche, with a lone employee there.

The USA team, also in England’s group, have the most upmarket residence — the Marsa Malaz Kempinski — though they will have to share that with residents. It’s too big to close the entire place down for them.

The Americans can draw on the psychological boost of knowing that they are playing on the green, green grass of home. The turf for all of the World Cup stadiums has origins in the state of Georgia.

‘The American grass seed gives you a more robust playing surface,’ David Graham from Aspire Turf, who are in charge of the Qatar 2022 pitches, told ESPN. ‘With the climate and conditions in Qatar, the playing surface wouldn’t hold together without the right grass seed.’

The existing playing surfaces were removed two weeks ago and the new seed laid, with water pumped through pipes laid under pitches around the clock to ensure optimal growing temperature.

The playing temperatures are unlikely to be a problem because of the decision to push the tournament back to November, which generally brings grey skies, sunny periods and top temperatures of around 23°C (73°F).

But sophisticated air-conditioning systems, planned at a time when it seemed the tournament would be staged in searing June heat, are also in place to ensure that the on-field temperatures are regulated for the players.

Underground sensors measuring heat and humidity will allow this degree of control, along with pitchside vents calibrated to blow out blasts of air which players arriving to take throw-ins will not feel. Vents at seat level will also ensure that supporters are able to watch games at 21-22°C.

Managers may feel that their media duties are slightly less strenuous given that for the first time, all pre-match press conferences will be in the same place, on the upmarket Pearl resort to the north of central Doha.

Some players will make their feelings known about the human rights abuses which have gone into all of this. The human cost will always taint the competition that is about to unfold.

It is impossible to consider the feats of architecture and engineering which have gone into building the stadiums and hotels without remembering the immigrants who toiled to build them and the roads, bridges and concourses in broiling heat, before returning to filthy, cold accommodation blocks. Many died.

Most workers will have disappeared, on state orders, for the duration of the tournament, though gardeners and cleaning staff are expected to stay.

The sight of them laying pavements and watering grass on the Corniche in the scorching late afternoon heat, two weeks back, was a reminder of the toil.

The Qataris are prickly about this. At a hastily organised press conference to mark the Lusail Stadium’s launch, they insisted their country had been misrepresented and said there had been no human rights problem.

The notoriously opaque Ministry of the Interior is not used to having to answer questions about anything unpleasant. When we tried to quiz officials at the press conference about issues of security, they told us they had not heard what we had asked but as we tried to re-state the question, the next one was being fielded.

On Banana Island, where the cinema and bowling alley were being prepared for the WAGs last week, no one will be any the wiser about the true pain the immigrant workers have been through.

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  • 56 минут назад 30.09.2022Sport
    Frank Warren explains what Tyson Fury has ‘instructed’ after requests from Anthony Joshua

    Frank Warren recently revealed that Tyson Fury has instructed him to keep up negotiations for the Anthony Joshua fight despite The Gypsy King insisting the all-British showdown is off.

    An interview with the Daily Mail posted after Fury once again announced that he was no longer interested in pursuing a bout with AJ suggests that Warren has been authorised to continue talks by the WBC champion.

    “Tyson has become very frustrated by Joshua’s delays,” said Warren. “But he’s authorised us to keep talking because he knows that unless this huge domestic fight isn’t made now it may never happen.

    “It took Joshua and his team including his promoter Eddie Hearn almost two weeks to respond to our contract which guarantees him 40 per cent of the take, which is more generous than Tyson is obliged to offer as the WBC champion.

    “They finally came back with alterations which were mostly nonsensical. But we immediately made adjustments and again we are waiting on a reply. We hope we are wrong in suspecting that someone on their side wants to block this fight and does not want Joshua to risk a fourth defeat in five fights, which could be damaging at this stage of his career.”

    Warren’s latest update comes after Fury took to social media to declare that he will now face Mahmoud Charr on the same date. The Mancunian even teased fighting two fighters in one night on December 3, however, it is understood that both Matchroom and Queensbury are still working hard to get the AJ fight over the line.

    A renewed version of the contract is currently being worked on between Eddie Hearn and Warren’s son George after Hearn raised concerns about a number of undisclosed points in the original paperwork.

    On Monday, the Matchroom Boxing chief sent a draft that better suits his client and has since received a marked-up version from Fury’s camp. They will continue to go back and forth like this until they come up with a final contract that appeases all parties involved.

    Providing all goes well, Fury and Joshua will square off on December 3 at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Fury will receive a 60/40 split of the overall purse with a rematch clause being signed into the contract at 50/50.

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  • 57 минут назад 30.09.2022Sport
    Man Utd icon Gary Neville makes hilarious four-word quip to Haaland before Man City derby

    Manchester United legend Gary Neville has told Manchester City striker Erling Haaland that he hopes he will not see him in Sunday’s derby as the pair filmed a promotion for the match on Sky Sports. The Norwegian striker has set the Premier League alight since his summer move from Borussia Dortmund, scoring 11 goals in his opening seven games.

    United and City face off at the Etihad this Sunday in what is expected to be a close-fought match. There is plenty on the line for both sides with the Sky Blues looking to maintain their place near the top of the Premier League while the Reds will hope to continue their ascent up the division having won each of their last four matches.

    If Red Devils boss Erik ten Hag wants to have any chance of winning the game then his main task will be stopping the in-form Haaland. The striker has been on fire this season, netting every 52 minutes on average, including two hat tricks in a row against Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest, and will be expected to find the target again versus his Manchester rivals.

    The game is live on Sky Sports, where Haaland and Neville have been discussing his player’s form and the upcoming fixture. It appears the former United right-back is concerned about what he could do to his former side after a hilarious promotional footage for the derby was shared. In the video, Neville told the 22-year-old he hoped he wouldn’t be around for the match.

    Neville opened the clip by encouraging viewers to watch the match on the channel this weekend. He said: “Manchester derby on Sky Sports we are on air at 1pm.”

    Haaland then followed: “2pm kick-off, be there.”

    Neville finished by making a cheeky four-word retort, telling the forward: “I hope you’re not.” Both men were seen to be in fits of laughter as the camera faded away.

    The fixture at the Eithad will be Ten Hag’s first match against Pep Guardiola as boss of the Red Devils. The Dutchman served under the Spaniard as reserve team coach at Bayern Munich and has previously credited his style of play to the philosophy the 51-year-old initially implemented at Barcelona.

    Speaking in 2019 while he was still coaching Ajax, he explained what he had taken from the former midfielder during his stint in Bavaria.

    “I learned a lot from Guardiola,” he said. “His philosophy is sensational, what he did in Barcelona, Bayern and now with Manchester City, that attacking and attractive style sees him win a lot.

    “It’s this structure that I’ve tried to implement with Ajax.”

    Sunday’s match gets underway at 2pm with Ten Hag desperate to keep Haaland quiet in order to claim a famous victory over United’s ‘noisy neighbours’.

    WIN A FREE ENGLAND SHIRT FOR THE WORLD CUP

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  • 57 минут назад 30.09.2022Sport
    Could Lewis Hamilton be made F1 champion after Red Bull ‘broke rules’?

    Red Bull could be penalised after it emerged they could have breached budget cap rules alongside Aston Martin. The news is set to infuriate Lewis Hamilton who missed out on securing his eighth title by a whisker last season as he lost out to Max Verstappen.

    German newspaper Auto Motor und Sport claims Red Bull could have broken the cap by around $5million (£4.5m) in 2021. Red Bull has claimed the reports are “just speculation at this stage” with Aston Martin revealing they were ”in discussion with the FIA”.

    The FIA said there will be no further comment from the governing body until a formal process has been concluded. It is claimed Mercedes and Ferrari feel the extra spend could have contributed up to half a second in track performance.

    Red Bull’s rivals will likely be pushing for the maximum penalty to set a precedent and stop other teams from breaching the regulations, according to the same report.

    According to the existing rules, a material breach of more than five per cent of the cap could result in tough sanctions. This includes the possibility of constructors’ and drivers’ points being docked and possibly teams being suspended from races.

    However, this is unlikely to result in Lewis Hamilton being promoted to world champion. Although sanctions do include loss of Drivers’ Championship points, the FIA would probably be more likely to only dock the teams’ standings if the breach was deemed significant enough. It is not clear if the reduction of points would be backdated to last season or tagged on to this year.

    Formula One’s financial regulations said: “In the event the Cost Cap Adjudication Panel determines that an F1 Team has committed a Material Overspend Breach, the Cost Cap Adjudication Panel shall impose a Constructors’ Championship points deduction.”

    Precedent also suggests the FIA are reluctant to tamper with individual drivers’ efforts and revoke points. Back in 2007, McLaren was suspended from the Constructors’ Championship and issued a $100million after it emerged the team had spied information from Ferrari.

    Hamilton and Fernando Alonso’s drivers’ standings results were not impacted at all with the title decided on-track at the final race. Furthermore, any breach of up to five per cent of the budget cap is only considered to be a “minor violation”.

    It means Red Bull is more likely to be hit with a financial penalty rather than face any sporting impact. Finally, the FIA appears keen to move on from the saga of last season after conducting their report on the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    They attempted to add finality to championship results, claiming the standings would not be updated despite admitting “human error” played a part in the outcome. The report read: “The results of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the FIA Formula One World Championship are valid, final and cannot now be changed.”

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  • 1 час, 42 минуты назад 30.09.2022Sport
    Tottenham fullback Emerson Royal has ‘spent nearly £1m trying to improve’ under Antonio Conte

    Emerson Royal’s desperation to prove himself to Antonio Conte has reportedly seen him spend £800,000 on trying to become a better player for Tottenham.

    The 23-year-old joined Spurs in 2021 for a fee of £25million but initially failed to impress Conte, with The Times reporting in January that Conte thought the wing-back ‘did not fit the bill’ moving forward.

    But Royal has taken steps to improve his game away from the training ground and, according to The Sun, has purchased his own hyperbaric oxygen tank to help keep his fitness levels up.

    The Spurs wing-back also reportedly commissioned a scouting report of Paris Saint-Germain defender Achraf Hakimi, who flourished under Conte’s system at Inter Milan, scoring seven goals in just 45 games for the Nerazzurri.

    The report goes on to claim that Royal and his managerial team, which is headed by his dad, also hired a neuroscientist to help him manage the intense pressures of playing in the Premier League.

    His dedication and steps to improve himself as a player seems to be working, with Royal cementing the right back position for Tottenham this season, featuring in every game so far, registering one assist.

    Many Tottenham fans have criticised the 23-year-old for his lack of attacking threat, with Royal yielding just one goal and assist in 41 appearances for Spurs last season.

    But Spurs manager Conte recently voiced his admiration of the Brazilian, saying earlier this month that he was ‘really happy with’ Royal and that he was impressed with his work ethic, adding that ‘he has improved a lot since last season.’

    Much of that could be down to the work he has done reportedly studying Hakimi, who is widely viewed as one of the best defenders in European football.

    Royal was set to be the replacement for the Moroccan before he left the Nerazzurri for Paris, which may be why he was drafted to the London side by Conte in 2021.

    Interestingly it was his dad, Emerson Zulu, who reportedly ordered the scout report to help his son study the PSG right back, who has two goals and two assists in 11 games for the Parisian club this season.

    The defender has also reportedly drafted in neuroscientist and human behaviour specialist Dr Fabiano de Abreu Agrela, who has previously worked with other professional footballers including one-time QPR loanee Eduardo Vargas.

    Dr Abreu Agrela said that Royal was committed to improving and said that the defender had totally bought into his methods.

    Speaking to The Sun, Dr De Abreu said: ‘He [Royal] is willing to do what it takes to give and be at his best.

    ‘It’s not easy for a player to leave a type of culture and expectations and go to the fastest and most demanding league on the planet. This adaptation plays with the mind.’

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  • 1 час, 42 минуты назад 30.09.2022Sport
    Erling Haaland ‘might only stay at Man City for two and a half YEARS’, claims his dad Alfie

    Erling Haaland could walk out on Manchester City after just two and a half years to satisfy his desire to ‘test out every league,’ his dad Alfie has revealed.

    Speaking on the newly-released documentary ‘Haaland – The Big Decision’ on Viaplay, the former Manchester City and Leeds toughman said he thinks his son would like to play football all over the continent, despite penning a five-year contract with City in the summer.

    ‘I think Erling wants to test out his capabilities in every league. Then he can stay in every league for three to four years maximum,’ Haaland Snr said.

    This news won’t be particularly pleasing for City fans to hear after the Norwegian has made a blistering start to life in Manchester.

    The 22-year-old has scored 11 goals in just seven Premier League games and doesn’t look like slowing down any time soon. Yet, Premier League defenders might only have to face up against Haaland for just a couple more years.

    ‘He could have two-and-a-half years in Germany, two-and-a-half in England, and then in Spain, Italy, France, right?’, Alfie Haaland continued.

    ‘We do not know if it will be like that, but I think he would like to test his abilities in the big leagues.’

    Haaland had his choice of clubs in the summer as he became the most highly sought after footballer on the planet – and it is likely interest in him won’t die down in the years to come.

    But one team who may never win the services of Haaland are his current neighbours Manchester United.

    When speaking about the different clubs the former Dortmund man was deciding between in the summer, the Old Trafford side never came up in conversation.

    ‘On our list, I think City is the best team,’ explained Alfie. ‘[Bayern] Munich is number two. We have Real Madrid as number three, Paris Saint-Germain as number four.

    ‘We also have some English teams other than City who are quite good… Liverpool and Chelsea. Also, there is Barcelona. They are sort of in the same row.’

    United were heavily linked to Haaland when former boss, and fellow Norwegian, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was in charge, but it is a damning statement that the Red Devils were never in the running to secure his services in the summer.

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  • 1 час, 42 минуты назад 30.09.2022Sport
    Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo lead Man Utd returning stars ahead of derby

    Both Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo have returned to Manchester United after poor international break showings with England and Portugal, respectively, as the Red Devils prepare for Sunday’s Manchester derby.

    The United captain arrived at Carrington on Friday morning on his return from England duty, during which he was culpable for two goals in the Three Lions’ dramatic 3-3 draw with Germany at Wembley on Monday night.

    Wantaway star Ronaldo was also spotted reporting for duty, having endured a tough spell for Portugal including a particularly disappointing 1-0 home loss to Spain in which he squandered several chances.

    Maguire’s arrival is not thought to signal any involvement in Sunday’s grudge match, having failed to give Erik ten Hag any reason to start him ahead of Raphael Varane or Lisandro Martinez with his England showings.

    The 29-year-old also picked up a muscular injury on Monday against Germany which has left him as an even bigger doubt for a role against City.

    The 37-year-old Portuguese striker was also in the wars at the weekend, after a hefty coming together with Czech Republic goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik left him with a nasty-looking black eye.

    Ronaldo’s struggles for his country came at the other end of the pitch, and his poor form left many calling for him to be dropped ahead of the World Cup in November.

    Portuguese daily A Bola ran a front page on Monday that read ‘Less Ronaldo, more Portugal’, highlighting his fall from grace in his country.

    Erik ten Hag made the bold decision to drop both players this season, with Ronaldo making way for a seemingly resurgent Marcus Rashford, and Maguire losing his place to new signing Martinez.

    However, Maguire has still managed to retain his grip on the armband at Old Trafford despite starting only three games for his club and losing them all.

    Both players have been the subject of sensational claims to drop international football and focus on their club careers as a result of recent displays.

    In the vase of the 29-year-old centre-back, he has been publicly handed unwavering support from Gareth Southgate, but has shown on several occasions that he is unable to deliver on that faith.

    He claimed after England’s 1-0 defeat to Italy that he was not worried about ‘rustiness’, but looked anything but comfortable in either game as a result of limited game time for his country.

    For Ronaldo, the suggestion is that his country’s steadfast refusal to drop him is hampering the development of the glittering array of attacking talent at Fernando Santos’ finger tips.

    And as a result the 37-year-old’s sister has leapt to his defence, writing on Instagram: ‘He has his family and those who love him by his side. They will always be by his side, no matter what.

    ‘But the current times don’t surprise me at all. The Portuguese spit on the plate they eat [from], it has always been that way.

    ‘That’s why when someone appears from the ashes and changes mentalities, it bothers… With you always, my king. Calm down.’

    After a well-documented and high-profile saga that saw Ronaldo attempt to leave United over the summer, Ten Hag has done well to calm the ever-swirling speculation that surrounds many of his dressing-room leaders this term.

    And having dropped both to the bench, on a seemingly permanent basis in the Premier League, United have gone on to record four wins in a row to shoot up the table.

    But although Manchester City pose an entirely different quandary, it is unlikely that either Ronaldo or Maguire will come back into the fold, having both watched on from the bench as United dismantled high-flying Arsenal last time out.

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Sport England WAGs win battle of the World Cup hotels with Banana Island resort's £6k-a-night chalets